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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Birds ▸ OwlView Options:  |  |  |   

Owls on Ancient Coins

Owls are depicted on many different ancient coin types but the most prolific types are the coins of ancient Athens. The ancient slang names for the coins of Athens were "owls" (but in Greek of course) and "girls" (referring to Athena on the obverse, also in Greek). "Owls" were so popular as a central currency of the ancient world that the design remained essentially unchanged and somewhat archaic long after other cities began to produce coins of a more refined artistic style. "Owls" of Athens are still very popular. For collectors, they are perhaps the most popular ancient coin type.


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

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The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH86208. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, gVF, bold well centered strike with high relief dies, banker's mark and graffito on chin, edge cracks, weight 17.098 g, maximum diameter 26.1 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $1400.00 (1190.00) ON RESERVE


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
SH86507. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered on a tight flan, nice toning, banker's marks, light marks, die wear and cracks, small edge cracks, weight 17.07 g, maximum diameter 24.4 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; from the David Cannon Collection, ex Beast Coins; $900.00 (765.00)


Athens, Greece, Pi-Style III Tetradrachm, 353 - c. 340 B.C.

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The name Pi-style refers to the floral helmet ornament on the obverse which resembles the Greek letter pi (P) bisected by a long central tendril.
SH86206. Silver tetradrachm, Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 126, 3; SNG Cop 63; SNG Munchen 96; SNG Delepierre 1479; Svoronos Athens pl. 20: 2, Choice VF, well centered on a tight flan typical of the type, toned, bumps and marks, weight 17.153 g, maximum diameter 21.5 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 353 - c. 340 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and pi-style floral scroll, pellet in ear; reverse owl standing right, head facing, pellet over eyes, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $800.00 (680.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS86276. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, VF, well centered and struck on a tight flan, no test cuts, toning, die wear, light marks, weight 17,143 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $780.00 (663.00)


Athens, Greece, Old Style Tetradrachm, c. 454 - 404 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
The old-style tetradrachm of Athens is famous for its almond shaped eye, archaic smile, and charming owl reverse. Around 480 B.C. a wreath of olive leaves and a decorative scroll were added to Athena's helmet. On the reverse, a crescent moon was added.

During the period 449 - 413 B.C. huge quantities of tetradrachms were minted to finance grandiose building projects such as the Parthenon and to cover the costs of the Peloponnesian War.
GS86430. Silver tetradrachm, SNG Cop 31, SNG Munchen 49, Kroll 8, Dewing 1611, Gulbenkian 519, HGC 4 1597, SGCV I 2526, gVF, the usual high relief and attractive archaic style, some die wear, bumps and scrapes, edge cracks, weight 16.865 g, maximum diameter 24.9 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, c. 454 - 404 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right, almond shaped eye, crested helmet with olive leaves and floral scroll, wire necklace, round earring, hair in parallel curves; reverse owl standing right, head facing, erect in posture, olive sprig and crescent left, AΘE downward on right, all within incuse square; $760.00 (646.00)


Athens, Greece, Pi-Style III Tetradrachm, 353 - c. 340 B.C.

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The name Pi-style refers to the floral helmet ornament on the obverse which resembles the Greek letter pi (P) bisected by a long central tendril. This type was overstruck on recycled older tetradrachms that were hammered and folded to create the new flans. Often the result was an elongated oval flan, nicknamed "log" flans today. Hammering and folding was apparently faster and more efficient than melting the coins and casting new flans.
GS86277. Silver tetradrachm, Kroll Pi-Style p. 244, fig. 8; Flament p. 126, 3; SNG Cop 63; SNG Munchen 96; SNG Delepierre 1479; Svoronos Athens pl. 20: 2, VF, well centered and struck on an oval "log" flan typical of the type, scratches, graffiti, some silver oxide encrustations, weight 16.575 g, maximum diameter 23.9 mm, die axis 270o, Athens mint, 353 - c. 340 B.C.; obverse head of Athena right with eye seen in true profile, wearing crested helmet ornamented with three olive leaves and pi-style floral scroll, pellet in ear; reverse owl standing right, head facing, to right AΘE in large lettering, to left olive sprig and crescent, pellet over eyes; $450.00 (382.50)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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Kamarina was suffering a plague. A marsh north of the city was the suspected source. The town oracle advised them not to drain the marsh, but in 405 B.C., the leaders ignored the advice. Once the marsh was dry, there was nothing to stop the Carthaginian army. They marched across the newly drained marsh, razed the city, and killed every last inhabitant.
GI76951. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins 195.12; BMC Sicily p. 40, 38; Calciati III p. 57, 24; SNG Cop 168; SNG Munchen V 410; HGC 2 547 (S); SNG ANS 1226 var. (style), gVF, well centered, attractive dark brown surfaces, some light corrosion, weight 3.552 g, maximum diameter 14.8 mm, die axis 225o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with neatly waved hair, pearled headband, smiling expression, dimpled cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; $311.00 (264.35) ON RESERVE


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

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A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgs, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GI86192. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type E, 194; Calciati III p. 55, 20; SNG ANS 1226; HGC 2 547 (S); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -, EF, dark patina, some roughness, tight flan, weight 3.573 g, maximum diameter 15.3 mm, die axis 150o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with radiating locks, fierce expression, knitted eyebrows, no hairband, chubby cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, grasping lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue; scarce; $270.00 (229.50)


Metapontion, Lucania, c. 300 - 200 B.C.

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Metapontion (Latin: Metapontum) was an important city of Magna Graecia, on a plain of extraordinary fertility on the Gulf of Tarentum, between the river Bradanus and the Casuentus. It was about 20 km from Heraclea and 40 km from Tarentum.
GB71325. Bronze AE 16, Johnston Bronze 68a; BMC Italy p. 263, 193; HN Italy 1704; SNG Cop 1254; Pozzi 542; SNG ANS 562 var. (Athena l.); SNG Morcom 296 var. (same), VF, green patina, some corrosion, weight 3.069 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, die axis 180o, Metapontion mint, c. 300 - 200 B.C.; obverse Athena Alkidemos advancing right, brandishing spear in right, shield in left; reverse META, owl standing right on stalk of barley right, head facing, wings closed; $190.00 (161.50)


Kamarina, Sicily, 420 - 405 B.C.

Click for a larger photo
A Gorgoneion was a horror-creating apotropaic Gorgon head pendant. The name derives from the Greek word gorgs, which means "dreadful." The Gorgons were three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a horrifying face that turned those who saw it to stone. Stheno and Euryale were immortal, but their sister Medusa was not, and was slain by Perseus. Zeus, Athena, Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors wore Gorgoneion for protection. Images of the Gorgons were also put upon objects and buildings for protection. A Gorgon image is at the center of the pediment of the temple at Corfu, the oldest stone pediment in Greece from about 600 B.C.
GB73539. Bronze tetras, Westermark-Jenkins, type E, 194; Calciati III p. 55, 20; SNG ANS 1226; HGC 2 547 (S); BMC Sicily -; SNG Cop -; SNG Munchen -, gVF, nice green patina, weight 2.624 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Kamarina (near Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy) mint, 420 - 405 B.C.; obverse facing head of Medusa (gorgoneion) with radiating locks, fierce expression, knitted eyebrows, no hairband, chubby cheeks; reverse KAMA (downward on right), owl standing left on left leg, head facing, lizard with head down in right talon, three pellets (mark of value) in exergue, no control marks; scarce; $180.00 (153.00)




  



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